Trump is having more of an effect on media than liberals imagined. His “war on the media” was somewhat ineffective as long as it was all negativity, focused on nothing more than lambasting liberal outlets without offering a solution. However, the rise of Sinclair Broadcast Group has offered more than an alternative – it is a full scale media operation with the ability to bring the conservative perspective into places that liberals once all but dominated.
The Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) is on the verge of a deal that would make it the largest broadcasting entity in the country – and by more than a little bit. SBG will attain this vaulted status if its merger with Tribune Media Company for $3.9 billion goes through. The merger would have been impossible without a more relaxed stance on broadcast ownership – regulations that were relaxed by the Trump administration. If it happens, Sinclair will be able to easily reach just under 75% of American households with conservative commentary mixed in with local news.
The most important aspect of this deal for conservative politics is its implication for local news. There are very few local stations with the ability to give opinionated social commentary of the caliber of a Tucker Carlson or a Bill O’Reilly. Most affiliated stations, even those affiliated to the Fox network, shy away from this type of commentary to keep from delving too deeply into local politics. The result is local news media that is too often affected by liberal bully groups. This age of television would end with the Sinclair merger.
In the aggregate, local news represents some of the most-watched formats in all of the United States. The evening local news is watched by over 23 million people every day, and an additional 12 million people tune in to local news in the morning on a daily basis. This far outpaces anything that the top three cable networks have to offer, two of which are staunchly liberal outposts. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News only receive 3 million viewers in prime time from day-to-day.
The one exception in local news has always been Sinclair. This is the one media organization that has never been afraid to mix in conservative commentary with local news.
Sinclair helped the Trump administration through exclusive interviews during the 2016 election run. Unfortunately, Sinclair was not as well-known as it is today because of the news of the merger. Although it was effective in certain areas of the country, it did not have a widespread mainstream effect. This will also change if the merger goes through.
Sinclair also stands to take the mantle of conservative media leadership from Fox. With the recent shakeup of executives at the Fox network, conservative media is in need of a shot in the arm. If Sinclair and Tribune make their deal, not only will conservative media have a new outlet for national conservative news, but it will also be bolstered by a network of local television stations as well.
The Sinclair/Tribune platform will have the ability to attract top talent. Without the merged power of Tribune on its side, Sinclair already reaches around 38% of homes in the United States. The only reason that Sinclair is not better known is its lack of a national outlet. However, the merger will create the critical mass that Sinclair needs to push itself into the spotlight.
Sinclair actually controls many of the affiliated stations of major networks. However, because of its position as a “ghost affiliate,” it cannot move as deeply into conservative commentary as it would like. This is another problem that the merger would fix.
Sinclair also has original programming that airs alongside its local news. Commentary can be pushed during all aspects of programming, including local news, original programs and commercials. The big three networks will not be involved in any of the decisions made by this newly empowered Sinclair.
Conservatives everywhere should be cheering that Trump took it upon himself to clear the pathway for a new conservative media. Moreover, conservatives should be prepared to support Sinclair in its new, high powered state. The merger with Tribune looks good from a compliance perspective – all that is necessary now is for the kinks in business to be worked out between the private parties.
~ Liberty Planet